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GUI Software The Internet

Researchers Develop 3-D Search Engine 140

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers have developed new search engines that can mine catalogs of three-dimensional objects, like airplane parts or architectural features. All the users have to do is sketch what they're thinking of, and the search engines can produce comparable objects."
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Researchers Develop 3-D Search Engine

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  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Friday April 16, 2004 @05:14PM (#8887020)
    How long until we hear about an "architectural piracy" case over the design of small-city houses...
  • Depends too much on (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2004 @05:14PM (#8887021)
    the user's ability to sketch. I used to teach an amature art class, most people can't even draw a recognizable hand.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2004 @05:26PM (#8887173)
      the user's ability to sketch. I used to teach an amature art class, most people can't even draw a recognizable hand.

      What a coincidence. I used to teach a Spelling for Amateurs class, and most people couldn't even spell the name of the class.
      • I used to teach an amature art class, most people can't even draw a recognizable hand.

        "Armature: A protective covering, structure, or organ of an animal or a plant, such as teeth, claws, thorns, or the shell of a turtle.

        However, when they graduated, they could draw claws like a pro.

    • I'm sure I can type the word corinthian faster than I can draw a corinthian column
    • I thought the same thing. But what about someone who's building/creating something new, especially someone without knowledge of lots of existings part types in database x, each time they do drawing for each little part in their design, run it through the search engine to see if it's something that's already been fabricated. Probably not the intended use though.
    • So you used to teach an art class where the people couldn't draw...hmmmm...

      1. It was a CLASS you TEACH...therefore you are there to TEACH them to draw.


      2. After the class that you taught they still couldn't draw...who's fault is that really? There's or yours?

      Also, how is this modded as interesting?
    • the user's ability to sketch.

      Do designers/engineers/draftsmen actually learn to draw these days, or is it all CAD-based?
      • At Purdue there's not much drawing, but there is some. The main purpose of it is to show you how much more precise and accurate the computer generated versions are. So, you don't spend much time on it really.
        • Isn't Purdue where George Goble [] teaches? I wonder why his LOX BBQ lighting page was taken down.

          Anyway, back on topic, there's no question that CAD is more precise but during early design stages, precision is not the goal and too much focus on computer-generated perfection hinders the process. People tend to get wrapped-up in the workings of the software and can produce brilliant-looking, but comepletely stupid drawings and unworkable designs.

          My opinion is that CAD people should learn how to draw by hand
          • Isn't Purdue where George Goble teaches? I wonder why his LOX BBQ lighting page was taken down.

            Yes, it is. Also, you can find a site containing photos as well as audio clips from his infamous technique for lighting a charcoal grill here [].

  • Dupe (Score:3, Informative)

    by Zagar (610861) on Friday April 16, 2004 @05:14PM (#8887026)
    Didn't we have a similar article about 3D searching a week ago?
  • by rxvt (768390)
    i've seen it before on slashdot i guess
  • Finally... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Unnngh! (731758) on Friday April 16, 2004 @05:15PM (#8887029)
    ...I can have the computer search for my keys for me.

    Oh, wait

  • Joke? (Score:2, Funny)

    by cflorio (604840)
    I didn't get the memo about the April Fools jokes going on ALL APRIL?
  • Yay (Score:5, Funny)

    by f0d0 (140677) on Friday April 16, 2004 @05:15PM (#8887031)
    A 3D haystack!
  • by Colonel Sponsz (768423) on Friday April 16, 2004 @05:15PM (#8887035)
    If Slashdot started comparing the general shape of submitted articles maybe we would avoid a couple of dupes... []
  • by jeffkjo1 (663413) on Friday April 16, 2004 @05:15PM (#8887036) Homepage
    How long before the porn industry capitalizes on this one?

    The possibilities are endless.
    • How long before the porn industry capitalizes on this one?
      Are you kidding me? I'm thinking of something I'd like right now that even med students would have trouble sketching
    • You are 100% correct.

      If I were in that market, I'd LOVE it if people could sketch what they wanted to see. There are probably a lot of extremely lucrative niches out there waiting to be tapped! :)
      • I'm less certain about the benefits in the porn industry.

        With my sketching abilities I'd probably have a wealth of pictures in the genre of:

        • various forms of penile-nasal insertion
        • lesbian ear lobe on ear lobe action
        • sexual situations with diamondbacks replacing the penis

        And don't forget the shock photos held on that infamous caprine-named site [] that would be returned just by being a bit too loose with one's sketch.

  • pr0n (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JohnGrahamCumming (684871) * <slashdot AT jgc DOT org> on Friday April 16, 2004 @05:15PM (#8887044) Homepage Journal
    And they developed this for searching for "industrial objects". Riiighht.

    Seriously though the pr0n industry is an extreme early adopter of most technologies, I'm sure that the researchers could fund research for the rest o their lives by creating an adult search engine.

    • Re:pr0n (Score:3, Interesting)

      by theM_xl (760570)
      Are you capable of drawing any female pornstar so that she looks different enough from the others that the search engine can find her? More important, would you actually CARE if it came up wrong? :D
      • > Are you capable of drawing any female pornstar
        > so that she looks different enough from the others
        > that the search engine can find her?

        Damn, you've uncovered by secret super-power. Oh, you didn't think there was an X-man with the amazing porn star drawing mutation? How wrong you were...

    • And if 3D search engines work like real search engines, you'll end up drawing a picture of a Ford Explorer, and the top six sites will all be redirects to
    • but I can give you her measurements....
    • Re:pr0n (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wwest4 (183559) on Friday April 16, 2004 @05:32PM (#8887228)
      > And they developed this for searching for
      > "industrial objects". Riiighht.

      I'll take the sinister uses with the good on this one. This is really exciting for engineers and tinkerers alike, because it means less time reinventing the proverbial wheel.

      Let's say I need gizmoX but it's not manufactured anymore. Fuck! No knock-offs, either. The local CNC shop says they can make it for me but they need a model. 3D modeling could take a while unless you have something similar to start with.

      So instead of PORING over an industrial parts catalog and missing the one close-enough part you needed but didn't expect to find under "444_T91_fillets" or whatever, you just search for matches using dimensions, materials, etc. Just a few minor tweaks to the mesh, export, send to the shop, and you just saved a lot of time.

      That said - the design and manufacturing industries have been writing ad hoc programs for searching for parts and tooling since the proliferation of computers, but it's nice to see that a general-purpose algorithm that could be more or less universally applicable is evolving from the efforts thus far.

      • "Hey Ben, I need that little thingie. You know, the one with the two parts and the stuff around it?"

        I don't think you need to go so far as editing to find a good use for this.

    • by freeweed (309734)
      I can even do it with a textbox interface:

      Looking for female porn? Enter (*)(*).

      Male your flavour? Try 8=====) (or 8==========) if you're looking for a more "exciting" experience).

      Pattern match, and boom! Instant porn results.

      And no, I cannot believe that I actually posted some ascii pr0n on Slashdot :) Just imagine what the poor search engine would have to do to match that horrible goatse ascii *shudder*. Maybe it'd return some astronomy websites dealing with singularities.
  • accuracy.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zeruch (547271) <zeruch AT deviantart DOT com> on Friday April 16, 2004 @05:16PM (#8887049) Homepage
    ...will be the most critical part. i could easily see people doodling in the dark trying to get an object they desire, but are not sure how to visually detail out.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      How exactly *does* one draw 36-24-36 anyways?
  • i dunno about you, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by trmj (579410) <> on Friday April 16, 2004 @05:16PM (#8887055) Journal
    but I rarely see stuff come out of MS Paint that resembles what it's supposed to be.

    Of course, this could be used to search from a scanned in image, which would be good for things like finding car parts, which we had a story about a couple of days ago. Old news, slightly different subject.
  • I believe it's called "Where's Waldo?"
  • So all I have to do is sketch a woman with big boobies?..
  • it's alot easier to type "fireplace" than draw it.
  • Shit... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AstrumPreliator (708436) on Friday April 16, 2004 @05:18PM (#8887073)
    My drawing skills are something to be desired. I'm not exactly sure how they can compensate for poor artists...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      My drawing skills are something to be desired.

      Your english skills leave something to be desired.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Note to Slashdot editors: Smoking weed causes short term memory issues.
  • Killer App (Score:2, Funny)

    by women (768472)
    I believe that the killer app for this technology will be for 3d desktops. Unfortunately, the killer app for 3d desktops probably doesn't exist.
  • by Wellmont (737226) on Friday April 16, 2004 @05:19PM (#8887088) Homepage
    Personally i've been freelance developing 3D art and models for companies for a few years now, and i've learned a couple of things.
    Turbo squid is better [] for artists.
    And 3D objects don't get better with age (at least not yet)

    This will be GREAT for the production industry (which has moved off shore) as users will be able to forget their skills of automatic recall when it comes to part recognition and sucumb to the all mighty 3D shape database.
  • by iswm (727826)
    What a great new way to search for porn!
  • by Thinkit4 (745166) * on Friday April 16, 2004 @05:20PM (#8887102)
    I've been curious if there has been a hyperelegant neural network solution that can do everything from recognize handwriting to faces. Completely different applications would only require retraining. So you wouldn't hear about specific applications like this, but one breakthrough that can simply, elegantly be applied anytime recognition must be performed. Are there any real (not patent or such) related reasons this doesn't exist?
    • by nacturation (646836) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {noitarutcan}> on Friday April 16, 2004 @05:57PM (#8887425) Journal
      I've been curious if there has been a hyperelegant neural network solution that can do everything from recognize handwriting to faces. [...] Are there any real (not patent or such) related reasons this doesn't exist?

      Aside from the fact that about a third of the brain (if I remember correctly) is dedicated to visual processing and that the brain has a hundred billion neurons, each neuron firing at up to 1KHz and with thousands of connections to other neurons? :)

      It's an enourmously complex task to be able to do this reliably. Recognizing a straight-on photograph and matching it up with a corresponding mugshot is a whole lot different than seeing the side of a person's half-shadowed face from slightly behind them and recognizing that as the same Alice who held up the convenience store on Tuesday.

      Handwriting recognition is orders of magnitude easier to do, since it's a lot easier to recognize similarities between a sample of writing and previously analyzed samples. In fact, there's a lot of research into this [] already. Facial recognition is slowly getting there, but people are still stumbling over the same mistakes that were made decades ago -- attempting to formalize facial recognition by defining a set of rules and matching to those rules. Much like spam filtering, this works to a degree until the differences between the one you want and the one you don't no longer fits within the rules.

      Neural net + genetic algorithms/programming to refine the net's connections and behavior is probably a good approach. Finding a means of populating, storing, and computing hundreds of billions of nodes in the network is the real challenge I think. Of course, take everything I've said with a huge grain of salt as this is a subject I'm fascinated by but have little practical experience with.
  • And if somebody *ahem*Bush*ahem* drew a WMD, it'd still give him this []
  • "I think this," he said, "is the beginning of the information age."

    this from the chief scientist. what an idiot.

  • by Craptastic Weasel (770572) on Friday April 16, 2004 @05:25PM (#8887166)
    Ahhh I can see it now. The marketing types will have a field day with this one. Maybe they could incorporate Clippy into the program, to help out the drawing impared.

    "I see you are trying to draw a monkey wearing what looks like a condom on it's head... May I assist you in finding such an item?"


    "Find books about Monkeys With Condoms on their Heads at"

    "Find the lowest priced Monkey with Condoms on their heads with Price Grabber"

    Bring it.
    • Being a curious little monkey and not having the man with the yellow hat around to stop me, I searched [] for this.

      The first book that comes up: "The Trouble with Islam : A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith". I have no idea what this means, but it has to be significant in some way.
  • Where's the sata they will use to build their index? WHo has the experties to actually construct a search query?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2004 @05:26PM (#8887180)
    The researchers have released the most popular sketch submitted by beta testers who were asked to sketch what they're thinking of:

    | |
    | (.Y.) |
    | ) ( |
    | ( Y ) |
    | |
  • by CHaN_316 (696929) on Friday April 16, 2004 @05:39PM (#8887287)
    Larger screenshots of the 3D search engine can be found here [] and here [].
  • I thought we had already covered this. Must be a slow news day..
  • I was wondering if the inventors had thought about this application of this technology to porn.

    The I saw the term "architectural features" and relized that they already had.
  • by canavan (14778)
    i think this was posted as "search by shape" ages ago 21 0
  • When I tried submitting this story two days ago, linking it to a report on an Indian portal, the story was rejected.

    Still, I'm glad this submission was accepted. The next thing we need is a robust audio search engine.
  • try it. (Score:2, Informative)

    by invein (647527)

    3d model search engine []
    • Re:try it. (Score:2, Informative)

      by Dok Fenderson (650034)
      I drew what I thought was a fairly respectable stomach (respectable if it had been done by a 10 year old with Down's) and it found a chair, a cabinet, and a "Euro Head". Methinks there was a breakdown in communication somewhere down the line.

  • What if I want to search for wind or existentialism?
  • ...and spending countless hours at the hardware store trying to find just the right parts to make the coolest bong in the school district?
  • by neonstz (79215) *
    Is this news? I read about this in an ACM magazine or something like that a year or to ago...
  • Great! (Score:2, Funny)

    by JohnnyBigodes (609498)
    Now all they need to do is a similar engine for pr0n. That way I can draw the perfect tits to look for :D
  • I'll be more impressed when I get my hands on a 4D search engine. My first movie sequence search would be like: "guy fucks women in the * "
  • Ramani expects his search engine will serve huge industrial companies whose engineers often waste time and energy designing a specialized part when someone else has already created, used or rejected something similar.

    It seems they target the industries only,
    but somewhat earlier I've been thinking too that we need some other way to crawl / search data then we've been doing so far or at least a more advanced way to get specific data. (granted; google does what it does, and does it extremely well)

  • by bdigit (132070) on Friday April 16, 2004 @06:11PM (#8887543)
    Say I want to look for some weird industrial part. I open up google and type "long hard metal round"

    And I come up with plenty of usefu... oh nm
  • OCR is just starting to recognize letters at a quality that is satisfactory.
    I don't believe this technology exists yet until OCR is perfected.
  • God designed it. We call them dogs. They can find anything. If the desired object is not ment to be eaten, the an infant does pretty well too.

    This story seems oddly familiar.
  • 3d searching used to be tedious, boring, and made your eyeballs itch. Today I can search the for "ddd" and get lightning fast results. We don't need yet another tool to make it even easier.

Some people have a great ambition: to build something that will last, at least until they've finished building it.